The First Host Of Saturday Night Live Was?
Answer: George Carlin
Saturday Night Live first aired on October 11, 1975 and featured, right out of the gate, the format we’re familiar with today: an opening monologue delivered by a guest host, live music, and a series of sketch comedy acts. On opening night, the host was none other than comedy legend and iconoclast George Carlin. Aside from the darker (and more present) hair and a voice a bit sharper and less gravely due to age, the mannerisms and passions of young George Carlin are quite similar to his newer material that fans might be more familiar with.
What’s particularly interesting is listening to the live audience’s reaction to his routine. The act was a comparison between football and baseball. Carlin opened with a few jokes about football and its relationship to European colonialism that largely fell flat with the audience (the jokes might fair a bit better with audiences 30-40 years on), but salvaged the routine, if audience laughter is any indicator, by lightening up and using his characteristically animated face and movements to highlight the differences between the two sports. You can relive that bit of history by watching it on the SNL YouTube channel here.
Image courtesy of Saturday Night Live/NBC.